There’s always been something extremely alluring about sedans. Personally, I always felt they were the true symbol of success. That could’ve been because in the late 1990s and early 2000s when I was at an extremely impressionable age, sedans were all the rage. It was a statement saying ‘I have arrived’ to those watching. However, one of my favourites from teenage was the Volkswagen Passat. It’s German build quality, long thrusting bonnet and understated looks took me by storm, instantly.
Recently, I got a chance to meet the latest avatar of the Passat and let’s just say, I felt like I was 18 again. Right off the bat, it’s easy to recognize the Passat thanks to its unique design language. Volkswagen has made sure that the Passat, along with its other products in the country, set a level above its rivals in terms of sheer build quality. This can be felt even if you’re standing next to a Volkswagen. It emits a robust and built-to-last vibe, which is can be quite a compelling reason for purchasing a car.
However, I didn’t just get to stand next to the car, I also got to drive it! So, after spending a couple of days with the Volkswagen Passat, here’s what I think of it.
Volkswagen seems to have a simple enough design language. There aren’t any sharp edges or clever design cues, seen on some of Passat’s Japanese rivals. The LED headlamps and DRLs look well-contoured and classy. The cornering fog lamps give a premium touch and an added bit of convenience while driving at night. The alloy wheels also feel perfectly matched with the Passat’s exterior styling. The boot, which has a capacity of 586 with all seats up, has a clever party trick as well. If you do find yourself carrying your shopping, you can simply gesture the boot lid to open by waving your leg under the rear bumper.
Both the rear and side profiles exude a similar sense of style to the front end and the overall design language of the Passat is excellent. Yes, I do know that design is an extremely subjective matter but the use of simple yet sophisticated design goes a long way in the completing package, especially in an executive sedan, like the Passat. Another neat addition to the Passat are the front headlamp washers which come on when you use the spray function for the front windshield.
On the inside, the simplistic design language takes on a whole new meaning. The AC vents at the front, for example, extend all the way from the middle to the left-hand side vent, which looks neat and inviting. The classic clock and wooden inserts look tasteful and go well with the dark theme of the Passat from the inside. It also gets three-zone climate control and rear AC vents along with 8-speaker music system. The infotainment is system is easy to navigate and feels premium to use.
Ride & Handling –
Once I was out onto the tarmac, I was left pleasantly surprised by the Passat. That’s because I was expecting the Passat to be smooth cruiser which chugs the miles with relative ease and I wasn’t disappointed on that front. What really took me by surprise was the way it handles corners.
The Passat comes loaded with comes five terrain settings – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual. Volkswagen calls this technology Dynamic Chassis Control system, which sounds rather cool. The individual settings allow for a greater degree of control when it comes to tweaking the chassis according to the customer’s needs. However, in Sport mode, the Passat does become just a little bit more alive than it does in Normal and Comfort. Eco mode dulls down the response and maximises its effort towards saving fuel.
When I did encounter corners that needed handling, the Passat did not disappoint, not by a long shot. It’s not a race car with perfectly set up suspension but for a car that weighs 1.5 tonnes (approximately), it gets the job done without any hassle at all.
However, when you want to settle down for a gentle cruise on a highway, the Passat will lull you into a sense of security, honest, no faking! It rides brilliantly over mildly bad roads and can handle some bad potholes with relative ease as well. However, there is a shard thud which enters the cabin each time you do come across a troublesome patch of road.
This is one field where the Passat is very well covered. It comes loaded with 9 airbags, 360-degree area view, Electronic Stability Control with ABS, ASR and EDL, hill start assist, auto-hold function and lockable wheel bolts for added protection against safety. It’s safe to preassume that the Passat is more than, well, safe.
Another party trick the Passat has the Park Assist function. Although it’s not really a safety feature, it can be a safer option when it comes to parallel parking. The idea is that the Passat will find a suitable space and then you’ll have to select provide inputs to the throttle and brake while the car steers itself! It feels extremely alien at first but it’s a genuine comfort feature which can help out in many situations.
Powertrain & Performance –
Volkswagen has equipped the current generation Passat with the tried and tested 2.0-litre TDI, which produces 177 hp and 350 Nm of torque. Taking care of the transmission duties is the venerable 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which shifts up and down with pinpoint accuracy. The claimed fuel efficiency stands at 17.42 km/l (ARAI). That coupled to the 66-litre fuel tank, translates to a theoretical range of over a 1000 kilometres!
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is a gem of an engine, thanks to tractability. It provides an almost perfect balance of frugality and performance. However, with the recent demonization of diesel due to its harmful effects on the environment, owning a diesel car can seem a bit unrefined. However, we do hope that the Passat can soon get a petrol engine again, to broaden its appeal.
Nevertheless, the diesel offering on the current Passat is a refined one. There’s power to be had across the rev range and once the turbo kicks in, it really does pull you back in your seat. To the unsuspecting bystanders at the red light, the Passat can come across as somewhat of a ‘sleeper’.
It’s a sleek, dependable, powerful and understated. The Passat has all the tools to make it a perfect executive luxury sedan. However, it can be a little too understated for most. Also, it comes with only one engine option, which can be a fly in the ointment as well. It’s not perfect in some ways, which is a shame.
However, once you consider the price, it starts to make a lot of sense. For a starting price of Rs 25.99 lakh, the Passat does seem like a huge bargain. Both the Accord and Camry cost upward of 35 lakh, commanding a premium which may not really appeal to an enthusiast. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, understated, tough everyday cruiser, that can cut the mustard in almost any given situation, then the Passat should definitely be on your list.